China is considering making it a legal duty for people to visit their aged parents, state media say.

Under a draft legal amendment, elderly people could go to court to claim their right to be physically and mentally looked after by their children.

China is dealing with the problems of a growing elderly population.

Taking care of parents is part of traditional Chinese culture but migration and work pressures have been fracturing family ties, observers say.

An eighth of the population of China is over the age of 60, and more than half of them live alone.

Decades of China's one-child policy have left fewer workers supporting more and more elderly relatives.

And while the number of nursing homes is growing, the authorities were recently alarmed by stories of old people dying unnoticed in their apartments.

The change is a proposed draft amendment to the Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Aged which came into effect in 1996.

A lawyer told state media the proposed new law would be difficult to enforce.

"It would be better to strengthen moral education than to force people to do something legally," Qian Jun said.

China has nearly 167 million people aged over 60 and one million above 80.